Effects of topical and oral vitamin E on pigmentation and skin cancer induced by ultraviolet irradiation in Skh:2 hairless mice

Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(1):87-97. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC381_13.


This study investigates whether supplementation with topical RRR-alpha-tocopherol (Eol), topical RRR-alpha-tocopheryl succinate, and oral RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate can reduce the incidence of acute and chronic damage to the skin (i.e., sunburn and pigmentation and skin cancer, respectively) induced by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation to mice. Groups of twenty Skh:2 female hairless pigmented mice were treated with 1) lotion vehicle, 2) 5% Eol lotion, 3) 5% topical RRR-alpha-tocopheryl succinate lotion, or 4) lotion vehicle and oral RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. Within each group, 15 mice were exposed to 0.24 J/cm2 of UV-B radiation three times per week. The animals' weights and food intakes were monitored, and the vitamin E concentrations of skin, liver, and adipose tissue were measured to determine whether the topical Eol resulted in significant tissue levels. Skin pigmentation was scored, and the total number of clinically detectable skin tumors per animal was counted weekly. Results showed that the skin concentrations of Eol, as well as levels in the adipose tissue, were increased after topical application. Mice treated with each form of vitamin E showed no signs of toxicity and had significantly less acute and chronic skin damage induced by UV irradiation, as indicated by reduced inflammation and pigmentation and by later onset and lesser incidence of skin cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects*
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin E